Looking back...

2019-02-27 06:00
PHOTO: FileKhaba Mkhize was instrumental in the birth of Echo and was the paper's first black editor.

PHOTO: FileKhaba Mkhize was instrumental in the birth of Echo and was the paper's first black editor.

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

FOR 40 years this June, the Echo flag has maintained it’s growth. Although the publication has passed hands, leadership and management, it still remains your paper of choice.

I think this is the one time as a journalist that I can be biased! I’ve been chatting to colleagues who’ve worked on Echo in the past and the one name that always pops up in our conversations is Khaba Mkhize, Echo’s first black editor. I thought it befitting that part of our birthday celebrations pays tribute to the man who was seen as the “father” of Echo.

Our older readers will know very well who I am talking about but for our new generation readers, Mkhize was a veteran journalist, former editor of Echo and ex-assistant editor of the Natal Witness, now The Witness, newspaper who died in July 2016. He was instrumental in the inception of Echo and became its editor in 1985. He suffered a stroke years before his death at the age of 70.

The stories he wrote told of the violence in Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands and he also produced many plays, one titled Pitymaritzburg­ which won the prestigious AA Vita Award. He wanted one thing — to promote peace in the City of Choice and to give people an opportunity to heal from all the harshness they endured during the 80s and 90s.

In doing this, he dedicated a page for poetry in the Echo every Thursday where readers sent in poems depicting their experiences during the struggle.

He also trained, groomed and schooled many young journalists who walked through his newsrooms and was an encyclopedia for anyone wanting to know what was happening on the political front.

This also meant that he was constantly looking over his shoulder, wore many disguises, even under which he wrote, and at one time changed his car 14 times in 18 months as death threats had become a norm for him!

There is so much more I learnt about Mkhize while compiling my research for this column but the one thing I must share with you is an extract from something is daughter, Nobuntu Mkhize, posted on Instagram a few weeks ago after somebody had sent her an article of her father’s column Khaba’s Khona which he wrote in 1980. It read:

“I just received this article just now and I cant hold my excitement! To think my dad never went to no white school to learn how to speak, write and comprehend the English Language, yet somehow, through self discipline and self teaching, he managed to master the language to a point that he became the first black editor of a white dominated newspaper...

So a friend of mine sends me this, telling me that her mom was cleaning their garage and boom she came across this article. Thanks to her mom’s habit of preserving newspapers and actually recording them by putting a date on them, a habit which my father was addicted to. If you had to see our garage at home, you’d swear that our garage is the “national South African garage of archives. At home, you never threw away a newspaper, unless you wanted to sleep outside that particular night. I remember those days, growing up, and I’d be sitting on the couch, and dad would walk pass, and I’d yell :“Agggg I’m so bored!” And dad, so nonchalantly, would respond and say: “Pick up a book or a newspaper, and you wont be bored!” .... Even though dad did write about real news and politics, now I know how he relaxed.

He didn’t have a psychologist.

He had a corner (or was it a Khona?) where he could blabber on about anything and everything. Way to go paps.. dad...”

Candyce Krishna

Maritzburg Echo Editor


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.